How social media can win your brand friends for life

Companies around the world are waking up to the power of social media. They’re looking for the magic sauce that turns customers into fans. So it was no surprise that today’s Social Media for Results conference in London revealed some great examples of the best of social media practice.

I spoke about how organisations can use social media to help their customers, especially when things go wrong. I quoted an amazing finding from the United States: 47 percent of social media users had turned to social for help (this rises to 59% of people aged 18-24). And 71 percent of people who have had a positive experience will recommend that brand, compared with 19 percent who got no response. [Source: NM Incite: State of Social Customer Service 2012.] Incidentally, the figures are remarkably similar for men and women. In short, handling complaints well on social could turn an unhappy customer into a friend for life.

I spoke of my own experience as a Vodafone customer: how I enjoyed outstanding customer service after the social customer service team contacted me after I blogged and tweeted about my unhappy experiences. I also cited the example of Vodafone’s rival, O2, which did a great job keeping people informed with humour (and allowing critical comments) on its social channels after service interruptions recently.

My favourite experience however was Chiltern Railways. Last year, I got on the wrong train at London’s Marylebone. I tweeted about my stupidity. Within minutes, Chiltern’s excellent social team tweeted back the best train to return home on. Experiences like this make you feel special.

My other point today was that it’s so important to ask what’s in it for the customer (or council tax payer…) when you’re developing a social media presence. So many companies think: we need a Facebook page. Yet they don’t ask what value it will give. What content will you share? Are you simply going to churn out sales messages and dull news releases? Or do you have something interesting and relevant to say?

I also repeated my favourite subject at any communications conference: the need to use simple, compelling language. I quoted RIM’s apology (during the 2011 service failure) to customers in ‘EMEA’. As the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones mocked, ‘Where on earth is that?’ It doesn’t exist, except on corporate organisation charts.

Finally, a plug for an excellent book raising money for a very worthy cause. Behind the Sofa, compiled by Steve Berry, is a collection of celebrity memories of Doctor Who. All profits from the book will go to Alzheimer’s Research UK. I called Steve after we at PayPal had let him down. I was keen to find out how we could put things right and learn from the experience. Seven months later, I was delighted to read the book. Well done Steve!

[Disclosures: I am Head of PR & Social Media at PayPal UK. Steve Berry kindly gave his permission for me to mention his experience.]

4 thoughts on “How social media can win your brand friends for life

  1. I like this. We tweeted about a company , they responded quickly, this gives you great satisfaction when they bother to respond. Our reaction because they carefully responded and swiftly was so much more positive.

  2. Pingback: Social Brands: Lego and Chiltern Railways | Ertblog

  3. As an aside, as you mention, German Railways (DB) now own Laing Rail and thgrouh them a part share in London Overground (formally Silverlink).This makes my brain hurt.I live (almost) next to Acton Central so use the North London Line a lot. You can just about guarantee that any train is late. The few weeks of TfL control have not improved punctuality although they have switched on the electric displays (AC was only about 3 years behind the rest of the NLL in this.)I also travel on DB rail a few times a year. They are completely punctual. I find it hard to imagine two rail companies more different: DB rail and the NLL.Most likely DB are in for a rude awakening.I suppose its just possible than some Germanic ideas about trains (you know, arriving on time occasionally) might filter down… dah, that will never happen.

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